iPhone 6 Plus

From iOS to Android and back again

Back in April I took my second voyage into the world of Android. This time, I was happy to stay for a while. The reason I made the move was because I was convinced I wanted a larger phone. In April, Apple's larger iPhones were still mere rumors. My only and best choice at the time was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

I lived with the Note 3 comfortably for the last 5 months. All the while, in the back of my mind, I knew that if Apple created a larger similarly sized iPhone, I would head right back. While the Note 3 and Android afforded me things I could not get in iOS, I prefer the inherent elegance of iOS, notably since iOS 7. It does not hurt that I have years upon years of dollars spent in the iOS app store.

Google is working on that inherent elegance with Android L. It gets complicated after that because while HTC, Samsung, and others make hardware that is well designed and desirable, the absolute garbage software and bloatware that these companies decide to shoehorn into Android is terrible and it is holding the operating system back. Google knows this. I believe eventually something will be worked out, but there is a bit of myopia going on with the big picture.

One Handed

Contrary to opinions I have read, I can use this phone one handed. I can actually use this phone with one hand better than the Note 3 because of its narrower dimension. I also do no think I have large hands. One of the first settings I shut off? Reachability. It is not perfect, but I climb my hand up the back of the phone so I can reach most of its screen. This is an adaptive grip that I am sure many people develop who end up with larger phones.

Design

What is the iPhone 6 Plus? It is a beautifully designed larger iPhone and that is what so many people wanted. Anytime I showed my Note 3 to people, I would always get "This is the size phone I want". Previous to that, when I saw my sister's Note 2, I was the one saying such things.

The design of the new iPhone 6 Plus is very similar to that of the iPad Air, which I love. It makes absolute sense. It feels great in my hand but I have cased it for purposes of working with my iMagnet car holder. Just as I wonder how I ever was able to read text on a 3.5" screen, I also wonder why Apple ever deviated from the original iPhone shape, which makes its welcomed return here. The phone rides in my front left jeans and slacks pocket everyday. I did not get the feeling it would bend and it has not bent thus far.

From the perspective of a Note 3 user, this is not a big phone. This is a Note 3 sized iPhone, which is exactly what I wanted in April. Yet now knowing that this larger form factor is what I consider "perfect" for my hands, it is probably what I wanted all along. If the original iPhone had a 5.5" screen in 2007, my hands and eyes would have been grateful. Regardless, good things come to those who wait...on a long enough timeline.

Camera

This camera is very good. The more I use it, the more I like it and the more it surprises me. It absolutely can manage lower light shots better than any other phone camera I have used. The slow motion at 240FPS works very well. I noticed very little stutter or slowness when opening the camera from the home screen or the lock screen. 

iOS 8

iOS 8 speaks for itself as an evolutionary successor to iOS 7. Perhaps evolution came quicker for some as many apps have not been updated to look proper on the 6 Plus screen. The trickle of common sense features in iOS can feel revolutionary because we have waited so long for them such as 3rd party keyboards or the ability to reply to a text without leaving an app (This was possible on a jailbroken iPhone 3g around 2009). iOS 8 is beautiful and continues the uniform elegance we have come to expect from Apple. That elegance is one of the main aspects that sets the iPhone apart from its competition. It says something when an OS inspires a developer to redesign their app to mesh that much better with the overall aesthetic.

Battery

The battery seems fine, but until someone can manufacturer a phone battery that lasts a week under heavy usage, there will always be something to be desired here. When a company like Apple makes such a great phone, it makes people want to use it more, for everything. A blessing and a curse. In fact, I have been neglecting my iPad.

Like with previous iPhones and Android phones, in order for me to find the battery acceptable, I had to turn off several settings. In addition, I cannot use the phone at the brightness setting that works for my eyes best at all times which is around 75%. If I did, the battery would drain much faster. For now I am sticking with Auto Brightness.

Here are just some of the settings I tweaked for better battery performance:

General>Accessibility>Reduce Motion>On (Parallax Effects)

Mail, Contacts, Calendars> Fetch New Mail>Push>Off (This one kills me in this day and age, but I use an Exchange account which always seems to be extra taxing on batteries.)

Mail, Contacts, Calendars> Fetch New Mail>Everything set to Fetch/Manual

Spotlight Search>Uncheck All

Suggested Apps>Uncheck My Apps, Uncheck App Store

Privacy>Share My Location>Off

Privacy>Location Services>Make certain apps 'Never'

Privacy>Location Services>System Services>Uncheck Compass Calibration, Find My iPhone, Location-Based Alerts, Location-Based iAds, Share My Location, Diagnostics & Usage, Popular Near Me, Traffic

iCloud>Find My iPhone>Off

iCloud>Photos>Photostream>Off (I use Google Drive and IFTTT)

Verizon

On Verizon in my area, I noticed quickly that the iPhone 6 Plus does a much better job at handing off data from LTE to 3G to Wifi to 1X and back again. It was noticeably better at doing this than the Note 3 and the iPhone 5 for that matter. In areas where I would have one bar of LTE on the Note 3 or iPhone 5, the 6 Plus seemed to make an executive decision to switch and stay on 3g which had a better signal.

Software

I had specific unresolved bugs that would infuriate me on Android that I do not experience in iOS. An example of this would be the Rdio app which is my main source of music every day. In the Android version, the music would stop regularly seemingly due to network inconsistencies. In iOS, the app seems to stay up and streaming regardless of my signal. I imagine that this is a clear case of iOS apps getting more and first attention over Android versions.

VoLTE

A feature I did not realize I had access to was Voice over LTE or 'VoLTE' so I turned it on. I have not noticed increased call quality, but I am happy that I at least have access to the feature. I look forward to Verizon unlocking Wifi calling next year as well.

Wrap Up

If I could have had the power of a soothsayer I would have said long ago that this is the phone or mobile device I have wanted for a long time (of course with a super battery that does not exist yet). I have not felt that sentiment about any phone up until this point. Can something come along and change my mind? Anything is possible. I have no brand loyalty so I will jump to whatever platform produces what I consider the best. For the foreseeable future, I will be content with using the iPhone 6 Plus a ton. I will definitely get my money's worth.